While Mumbai Rockets may have defeated Hyderabad Hunters on Saturday to enter the semi-finals of the Premier Badminton League Season 4, but the latter’s trump card and captain, PV Sindhu didn’t fail to show her exceptional game. Sindhu was naturally a tall order for her opponent Shreyanshi Pardeshi, and went on to secure a 15-6, 15-5 win. Her team may have lost, but Sindhu reminiscing about her earlier struggling days reminds us, “I take everything in my stride in a positive manner. Always learn and move forward is my mantra. With whatever little I have achieved I feel my responsibility towards this game and sport has increase manifolds.”
Being a World Number 3 at the young age of 23, the Hyderabad homegrown shuttler is one of India’s most successful athletes. Not only was she the first Indian woman to win a medal at the 2013 Badminton World Championships, but also became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics when she cinched the medal at the women’s singles event of the 2016 Summer Olympics. And the joyous scream that she let out after defeating Nozomi Okuhara at the 2018 World Tour Finals to win a gold, is still resonating with her fans and silencing her critics. Talking about how her wins and the people’s support keep her going, Sindhu divulges, “My feelings reach another horizon when I land here in my country. The kind of response I receive is mind blowing. I am happy I could achieve all this with the support of my parents and the people who have always loved me and ignited that thought in me to always give my best. Awards do boost me up as well.”
Even though since 2013, Sindhu has been a consistent shuttler with almost always reaching the semi-final stages of the top-tier tournaments, the same reason was given by her critics to deem her a choke. It was in these times of struggle, Sindhu’s strong support system—her parents backed the young shuttler. “I am happy that I have seen ups and downs. During my not so good times, it was like a learning period for me. I thank my parents specifically, for always being there with me. They have been standing there during my training sessions as well. They always took care of my food. I do not take struggle as a burden. I have learned from my not so good days,” reveals Sindhu. Finally it was her last year’s World Tour Finals win that was seen as the breaking of her jinx.
Although, for the die-hard admirers of her game, the catharsis came when she defeated the Spanish World Champion Carolina Marin at the Premier Badminton League. Having lost to Marin twice at the final stages —the Olympics and the World Championships —it does appear to be a sweet victory. “It was not easy as Caroline also played very well and was strong enough. In fact the match played between us both were good matches. The standard as well the level of the match was tough enough. I am happy that I won the match,” gushes the shuttler. She further adds that the strategy is to be focused and to give your best.
Sindhu’s evolution from a child wanting to learn badminton to her current international stature has been a story unfolding under the tutelage of the former badminton player Pullela Gopichand. She got trained under Gopichand’s badminton academy—a training facility that has produced hallmarks like Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi and many others. Currently serving as the Chief National Coach of the Indian Badminton Team, Gopichand had spotted the young talent quite early on and had once famously said, ‘the most striking feature in Sindhu’s game is her attitude and the never-say-die spirit’. Responding to this and talking about her coach, Sindhu says, “It is a nice and feel-good compliment from Gopichand sir. I have been associated with him from the time I played badminton when I was as little as 10-years-old. Off the ground and on the ground we share an excellent rapport. He understands me the best. He knows me personally as well professionally, both. I hope to continue the power play in the same attitude.”
There is no doubt that Sindhu not only brings the country the due attention needed on the international stage, but her skilled game and fighting spirit inspires awe amongst young girls. As a message she would like to communicate to the young girls, she says, “We are now considered to be equal to men, be it in sports or any other professional sphere. Nowadays, we girls are not only making our parents proud, but making our country proud as well. I would ask all girls, especially Indian girls, from any part of the country to come forward and join the sports of their choice.” She concludes by saying that young people should take advantage of government-sponsored programmes like Khelo India as they motivate and help the younger generation to pursue their dreams of following a career in sports.